While patting themselves on the back for passing a year’s state budget for the first time in a while, Democrats and Republicans in Illinois included a 3% cap on teacher raises that can be applied to our pensions
A few years ago they followed the direction of their leader, Michael Madigan, and enacted a 6% cap. By doing that they managed to be both punitive to teachers and do absolutely nothing to address the $130 billion dollar pension liability.
If a 6% cap can be both punitive and do nothing to the pension liability, imagine what a 3% cap can do and not do at the same time.
In a previous post I speculated that the General Assembly’s bi-partisan leadership snuck the 3% cap into the budget bill when nobody was looking. Perhaps the rank-and-file members of the GA didn’t know about it or hadn’t had time to read the part of the bill that put a cap on teacher salaries.
It appears I was wrong. The members of the General Assembly in both parties appear to have known exactly what they were doing.
As a Springfield observer wrote me, “The limiting raises to 3 percent, was a
significant part of multipart deal that far more than just the leaders
signed off on. It was an ingredient baked into the cake that you will find
cannot easily be removed.”
Take State Senator Don Harmon, the liberal Democrat from liberal Oak Park and the Democratic Party’s Assistant Majority Leader.
I talked with Sen. Harmon of Oak Park to ask if he even felt a little unsettled about passing a budget in which a 3% limit was included in local districts’ bargaining before the district itself was faced with paying the pension amount to the annuitant for life.
The answer was NO.
In fact, Sen. Harmon’s defense was that some years ago local districts were spiking, so the General Assembly put in a 6% limit which would be a cap and the locals would have to pay anything above 6%. “Still,”he said, “ there’s been a lot of fudging and manipulation, but we (GA) noticed that the 6% really worked well in keeping people from spiking; thus, why not 3%?
That should work as well if not better than the 6%.”
When I asked about why the arbitrary assignment of 3%, the multi-year contracts that might add up to beyond 3%, the possibility of an inflationary economy, the intrusion into collective bargaining by the General Assembly – he dismissed that as a necessary means to limit the costs of pension abuses.
When I reminded him that the pension abuses were the result of the State’s not paying the required payments so that we are now looking at an unfunded liability of $150 billion for which we all pay an 8% interest, I was dismissed from the discussion.
You sit down with the devil (Rauner), my friends, and you do his work.
Before I was dropped from the echoing conversation, I told Senator Don Harmon that he and the GA were responsible for completing and creating a legacy for the hopefully one-time Governor.
Dillon suggests the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly who decry the threat of Janus when they talk to teachers are decrying crocodile tears.
Don Harmon and the GA are Janus.